Creation Stories

Hill Country News Faith Roundtable Article 2016-05-25

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By Chuck Robison

All of us wrestle with the Big 5 Questions most of our lives. They are: 1. Who are we? 2. Where did we come from? 3. Why are we here? 4. Where are we going? and, 5. What time is it?

Every society, religion, and civilization has its own creation story, each designed to make sense as an answer to question 2. There is no need to seek the literal truth of our own Judeo, Muslim, Christian creation story. It is all made up. There was never a Garden of Eden, we never fell from anywhere and the entire history of mankind, going back at least a million years, has been about evolving out of the primordial muck and into the less than perfect beings we are today.

However, the creation story that we Jews and we Christians and we Muslims share has very specific powerful value, especially in today’s world. We three are religious cousins and our fights and squabbles are put into perspective when we read the first sentence of our common creation story:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The message is very clear. We did not create this. We had nothing to do with this creation. Our Universe can be described as a Great Thought, which God had in a moment, and we are but the result. All artists can determine how their art is expressed, used and by whom. God created all of this, including each of us, and He can determine how He wants to use us.

Asking this Roundtable’s question tempts us to buy into the confounding resurgence of American Anti-Intellectualism. All of sudden, it is very common to hear Americans deny science, history, and even humanity’s great intellectual achievements to focus instead on “stories” that are supposed to make us feel better. We now casually deny science and common sense when we proudly proclaim “there is no environmental crisis. Even if there is, man did not cause it.” However, the very God, the higher Divine Mind behind all of this, will not allow us to get away with this “story” much longer.

We do well to study just the first sentence of our Creation Story until the day comes when we fully understand that we are the creatures and God is the creator. He made the rules and He decides the outcome. And this part is not a made up story, it is the law.

Where there is no Vision….

Hill Country News Faith Article 2016-05-13

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By Chuck Robison

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” This selection from Proverbs 29:18 is worth your consideration at this very strange time in our lives.

At best we are living in a world of competing nightmare visions. Each and every one of them is generated by fear. It is almost impossible to resist engaging in at least one of them some of the time. Sixty-four years ago, you would have had a very difficult time convincing most of the people who survived a global war, that there would ever be a religious war. Today we are marching toward that Global Religious War, without much critical thought. We have been led and taught to believe Muslims want to kill all non-believers; Jews want to destroy virtually all of their neighbors, who are also their genetic cousins, and Christians in America are praying for the World War so that Jesus will come back.

There is nothing happy or uplifting in these visions. Believe it or not, God did not hand down these visions from on high with a demand that we pray and work to fulfill them. But here we are. We cannot afford drinkable water in many of our ancient cities; we lust to carry guns in anyplace we wish, including our local churches; and just to make it interesting, we cannot feed a significant percentage of children in our country, nor can poor families afford a place to live.
And now, we have chosen to squander our national treasure by spending more than one trillion dollars to ‘upgrade’ our nuclear weapons. We are being led to believe that using our tax money to solve our own citizen’s problems is creating a give-away-society.

If there was ever a moment when our faiths were needed to shine a Holy Light on our lives, this is it.

Here is why. All of the Big Three World Religions and all of the others believe that treating each other as we ourselves would like to be treated is at the core of a spiritual life. That is buttressed by the global spiritual law that we cannot escape doing to ourselves as we do to others, because we are all ONE.

The people who we have let program us to create the weapons which will ultimately destroy our world want us to always believe we are not one and that it is always us against someone else, who we call the enemy.

War and our large military establishments exist solely to kill people and war resembles a huge fire as it spreads. We are free to change our minds about all of this. As the Dali Lama recently said, “If we are going to stop the murder of other human beings and war in general, we need to shake ourselves awake from the brain washing that we have created for ourselves over the past six decades.”

Imagine what would happen if every human being on this planet refused to participate in this vision of global war! Money would be freed up to help all 8 billion of us live lives of productivity and dignity. One trillion dollars would clothe, feed, heal, house and educate every person on Earth.

Today we are faced with choosing leaders who cannot imagine this outcome. So that leaves us to lead. We are the salt of the earth. It is up to us to move past those who lead us to war and bend our swords into plow shares and discover we were not made to kill each other, but to lift each other up from the fire of war into the fresh air of a spiritual transformation actually taking place right now on Earth.

We are the ones who must create and demonstrate a new vision for humanity, and to hell with those who want to keep burning people up like cheap firewood.

Without such a powerful Holy Vision, we really will perish.

What do you think God thinks about the existence of so many Christian denominations?

Hill Country News Faith Roundtable 2015-12-30

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By Chuck Robison

Clearly, the question posed in this Roundtable was chosen as a means to encourage us to demonstrate that God has a sense of humor. So here goes.

During my tenure at the United Nations in New York from 1990 to 2000, I was given the remarkable opportunity to view and work with members of all the world’s religions. What a blessing! I was able to see and experience the things all the religions have in common, and also the things that create divisions in and between our religions.

This Roundtable question is not just about Christians, because it also reveals similar dynamics in all the religions. Our religions are made up of and have been modified by leaders and adherents from the beginning. It seems like division is more characteristic of our religions than is Unity.

These divisions are created as a result of two distinct processes at work in the religions of our day: The search for Purity and the obsessive Need to Control.

The search for purity is behind most of the theological arguments that result in yet another division. In my church, Presbyterian, and perhaps yours, the period from 1975 to 2015 has been characterized by forcing people to believe the company line about the place of Gays in the church. Until recently, that place has been at the back of the church….way back. Whole churches, even ones right here in Williamson County, have divided over allowing Gays in or forcing them out. Those seeking purity have wanted the Gays put back in the closet, as if there had not always been Gay leaders and participants in all the religions.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Control Freaks see their religion as a way to force people to believe and act according to approved trains of thought. Here again, every time there is a division, it is caused by someone’s sense that they are entitled to tell people how to act and what to believe.

There are people reading this article, right now, who were taught, fifty years ago, that we were then at a stage where there would be no more religious wars. SURPRISE, they were wrong.

Today, we are in the middle of a Global Religious War, and we are all skating close to the edge of a Lightning Nuclear War……after which, in just 24 hours, much of what we think of as our civilization will no longer exist. There will be no winner, only losers, and that includes, especially, those in religious leadership positions who are seeking to control the world. And, my friends, that includes Christian Religious Leaders.

Just to be sure you know who is pure and in control, our religious leaders carefully point out that God is coming to punish us and to take the good guys off planet while it happens. The result of all this is that in churches right here leaders are helping their followers pray for the coming destruction so that Jesus can come back.

The curious part is that The Christ never left. He has steadfastly stood by his promise to be with us until the end of the Age.

These warrior class Church leaders are out there belying what they teach by also teaching exclusivity, hatred, and some form of proof that God hates the same people they do and is going to judge the bad guys and the good guys.

Above all of this, God must be at least amused. There are now 8 Billion of us and God has repeatedly said that he sees no divisions among us. We are all spiritual beings experiencing a human life for the sole purpose of helping our souls grow to a higher level.

So, I would suggest before you start down the path of division, you might consider that we really are, all of us, in this together. Sooner or later, we will be called upon to experience, manifest and demonstrate that we are all one. And the likelihood that demonstration will be based on the quirks of all the religions is almost not thinkable.

The Dali Lama, put it best, when he said: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; and the philosophy is kindness.” Jesus also said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Is God causing disasters? 2015-01-14 Hill Country News

By Chuck Robison 20120220-_MG_6032

This article appeared in the January 14, 2015, Hill Country News.

Many preachers claim God either directly acts, or indirectly but willingly allows, natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. in order to destroy evil and send a message to the world to ‘wake up’.

As a card carrying, well-educated Pastor-Theologian, I am keenly aware of the constant temptation to speak ex cathedra about God. Therefore I avoid it as best I can.

I don’t know why God does a lot of things, but He does and He makes the rules. In the realm of Nature, He has some very definite rules and they are always enforced. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

Evangelical Christians, lacking a real leader like Billy Graham, have sought out politicians to be their leaders, especially since many church-grown leader wannabes have fouled out with bad behavior. These politicians have courted the votes of the Evangelicals. But….and this is very important….the politicians will tell us anything somebody wants us to hear. Because they are beholden to their Corporate masters, they bring their masters’ Corporate Message to the churches that ask them to speak to various groups.

This has happened enough now that we can trace how it came to pass that many Evangelicals believe that we are not powerful enough to damage the environment; that there is no climate problem; therefore, government should follow the Evangelical groups and stop making costly and harmful regulations and declare there is no climate change.

In the meantime, at least for the past four years, we have seen weather all over the world become MUCH more destructive. Our global scientists all say that this is just the beginning. We have already passed over the tipping point into a damaged and malfunctioning environment and as a result we may never recover.

So, given that prospect, one way out is to make up some excuse that sounds like God is bringing this disaster on so somebody will wake up. God never punishes evil. He supports love and kindness. He is supporting His own rules and allowing those who break them to bring dire consequences to all who cannot see how the Corporations, who want all the money, rig this global environmental crisis in their own short-sighted favor.

People, in and out of the churches, need to wake up. That’s for sure. But these increasing climate disasters are much more the predictable and natural consequences of our ignoring what seems to be the elephant hiding in plain sight in the living room of the world. WE HAVE ALL THE POWER WE NEED TO CHANGE THE WORLD’S CLIMATE, WE HAVE USED IT UNWISELY AND HAVE PLACED OUR WORLD IN SURE DANGER AS A RESULT.

We have done this to ourselves and you can be certain that God is not going to suffer our foolishness in blaming Him.

Will you be so willing to blame God when Ft. Worth is severely damaged by a major earthquake? Surely you know fracking is the cause. God, disguised as Nature, is about to demand we stop this destruction of our environment.

 

So, you think you are enlightened? 2015-01-07

By Chuck Robison 20120220-_MG_6032

This article appeared in the January 7, Hill Country News.

My Daddy always told me: “You are allowed to choose your friends, but God gives you your family.” That makes pretty good sense. It also may be true that we choose our parents and siblings from a list of candidates presented to us by God. In either case, our family of origin is not a haphazard affair. Looking back, you may be able to see that your family provided your soul some of the most powerful lessons it needed to learn this lifetime.

Soul lessons are the reason we are here. This is the big classroom where we are free to create as we wish and also experience the consequences of our creations. Generally, we see that soul lessons are not exactly easy, but are always profound.

Looking back on the past six weeks, you may easily see why Guru Ram Dass said: “If you consider yourself enlightened, spend your holidays with your family.” I know, I laughed too! Our families are the very people who know exactly and precisely how to push our buttons and act like nothing of the sort just happened. But they know their history with us and they have no more revised their history of us than we have revised our history of them.

Often a trip home, for any purpose, is a refresher course in living through old and oft times pain-full memories. One thing is for sure, our families almost always fail to see the person we believe we have become. Too much history and too many old habits get in the way. That may explain why many of us do not look forward to family events.

But there they sit at the dining room table ready for the Great Meal and the “conversation” that feels like we memorized it back in high school. Looking back over the past six weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, you may have wondered why Ozzie and Harriet and the Brady Bunch and all the families we grew up with in the media of our day seemed so ‘normal’ and so happy. Just remember, Normal is basically a setting on a clothes dryer, not a measure of social or spiritual progress.

The Lord Jesus, Ram Das and the myriad of history’s spiritual teachers have all said that we are here to learn who we are and to lay up treasures in heaven, not worldly success and other peoples’ judgment of us and our progress.

So now that we have once again passed through the family lens of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it makes sense to ask yourself: “What Have I Really Learned?” and “Where should I look for the next lessons I most need to learn?” You may even have gotten a glimpse of the reality that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and not the other way around.

An old friend of mine, reminded me back in the 70’s of this simple rule: “The Great Way is easy for those with no expectations.” Releasing expectations, positive or negative, frees us up to experience reality without knowing in advance, what any situation, person or event has to teach us.

Early on, The Course in Miracles Workbook has this lesson: “I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me.” Once you are ready to release your expectations and let God show you the real lesson you are about to learn, you are ready to accept what your soul, and not your ego, needs to experience to aide you on the path to your enlightenment.

In a later lesson in The Course, we learn that in any given instant, we can release our hold on reality and say simply, to God: “This Holy Instant would I give to You. Be You in charge. For I would follow You, Certain that your direction gives me peace.” This is the path to forgiveness and to enlightenment. Perhaps you might like to look up The Course in Miracles. I assure you it will create a change for the better in your life.

Hill Country News 2014-11-26 Roundtable Article

Scott Coleman, Editor of the Hill Country News here in the Austin area, asked the regular columnists to discuss the Issue of Free Speech and Hate Speech and the Bill of Rights.

Here is how I dealt with this assignment:

20120220-_MG_6032By Chuck Robison

Germany was one of the most cultivated countries in Europe. It was one of the leading players in the Enlightenment, and yet we discovered at the end of WWII, that a concentration camp can exist within the same vicinity as a university. Similar discoveries are happening in America today. We are discovering that our cherished freedoms and our hallowed Constitution have been placed in concentration camps for the mind.

Being in graduate school on the east coast in 1965, I was thrilled by Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement at Sproul Hall in Berkley. I fervently believe in Free Speech….even with all its dangers. But in all the fear-based decisions America has made since 9-11, we have repeatedly and willfully given up the freedoms we tell our soldiers they are fighting for, that we teach our children to believe in, and we talk about as if they are sitting right next to us. However, these freedoms are long gone.

Behind the concept of free speech is the concept of critical thinking. A nation of people who are able to think critically can act responsibly in matters of freedom. For all of this century America has chosen not to think critically and we have taught our children, by example, not to think critically. In fact, right here in Texas, the 2012 Republican Platform forbade the teaching of critical thinking to Texas students because it would challenge and undermine parental authority.

Citizens who can think critically would never be tricked by crowds gathering to lynch gays, or black people, nor would we allow police to shoot unarmed people or our armies to invade any country whose actions offend us. For people who can think critically, freedom of speech is a basic requirement. If we are not free to speak the truth, we will never know the truth.

In our giving up the right to free speech, and the right not to be victimized by unlawful searches and seizures, and the right to peaceful assembly, keeping only the right to bear 20th century guns and bullets, we have convinced ourselves that living in a totally surveiled society has made us safe.

To test that out, watch the: Politically-Challenged: Texas Tech Edition on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRZZpk_9k8E) and you will be appalled at the voluntary and willful ignorance of the students at this highly regarded Texas university. This short video gives rich new meaning to the concept of dumbing our citizens down, right here in Texas.

As Christians we can look back on our history and see how we have been on both sides of free speech. Christians, even Texas Christians, have doled out a serious share of hate speech as recently as this past election. But forbidding free speech, making laws about ‘political correctness’, and trying to control this behavior will not work.

Outlawing things we do not like is not the way to change anything. It just puts that behavior underground where it can fester and mutate and come back to bite us when we least expect it. The only way to create change and to turn the volume down on hate speech is to present ourselves with behaviours, examples and models that inspire feelings of positivity, openness, acceptance and peace.

Behind all of this is the truly difficult lesson we most need to learn: ALL EIGHT BILLION OF US ARE ONE, WE ARE ALL CONNECTED and when we know the truth of that, we will set ourselves free to speak and do anything because we will know what we do to any one of us, we do also to ourselves.

Barbarians at the Gate – Hill Country News, July 16, 2014

20120220-_MG_Small6032By Chuck Robison

You may have heard the stories of what happened to the “Okies” who left for the coast during the great dust storms and drought of the 1930’s. When they reached the state line of California, armed American citizens and guards, who forbade their entry into California on the basis that the Okies would destroy the state and its economy, met them.

Hatred ensued. Then, in time, California absorbed all of these unwanted immigrants and life went on.

Or, imagine what it would have felt like, when as a starving Irish parent, the only hope you had left for your children was to put them on a boat, alone, to travel to America and the outstretched hands of the Statute of Liberty, who wears these words: “Give me your tired, your poor,
 your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
 the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
 send these; the homeless,
 tempest-tossed to me. 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Contained within this quote is the secret history of the last 150 years of American History.

And now listen to Texas politicians and other assorted defenders of our liberty, speaking about the illegal hoards bursting over our border with Mexico. Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver listed as commander for a militia group gearing up to repel the invasion, told the San Antonio Express-News he believes law enforcement agencies welcome the help.

The group will secure the border in a “legal and lawful manner” Davis said. However, in a 21-minute YouTube video of Davis, which was first reported by the McAllen Monitor on July 4, (which he has now removed) suggests otherwise.

“How?” Davis asked on the video. “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.'” Davis said the “influx of illegal immigrants is bringing bad elements” to the country such as “sickness”.

Governor Rick Perry suggested that President Barack Obama could be leading a conspiracy to bring immigrants into the country. The Congress of the United States has refused to do anything at all about the Immigration Issues in hopes of being able to blame all of this on a duly elected President just before the fall election season.

Now imagine what would happen if our drought continues and we experience loss of water and major fires. Imagine gangs of thugs and billionaires who form groups to control what water is left, and these people enforce their power with guns, and many people are being killed, including children.

So the logical solution would be to attempt to emigrate to Arkansas and the water and springs there. All of a sudden, your lonely and painful trip to Arkansas and safety is met at the Texas border by angry Arkansas mobs feeling Texans and their overblown egos will finally ruin their state and lifestyle.

Now, as we all know, that could never happen in Texas. We fought them off at the Alamo and we will repel this invasion as well. And proudly we hail as a Republican Tea Party state, primarily of white people, who are all Christians.

So let’s ask the obvious question of our Christian selves in this situation: What would Jesus do? Do you really think he would tell the little children to go home to be killed? Or would he say: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

While we’re deciding who we really are in this situation, you might consider the end of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath when the Okie, Ma Joad, speaking for all immigrants who have met hatred when they arrive in America, says: “I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was, though. For a while it looked as though we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep a-coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever, Pa, cos we’re the people.”

Thanks for reading this far and thanks, too, for your support and contribution!





Michael Strong and New Education

Michael Strong is a pioneer in education and independent learning. He is the founder of innovative Socratic, Montessori, and Paideia schools and programs in Alaska, Florida, California, Texas, and New Mexico. Michael is co-founder and serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Visionary Officer of FLOW.

As Chief Visionary Officer of FLOW, Michael is responsible for articulating the FLOW vision and for applying it in various domains. Fortunately for FLOW, Michael is a prolific thinker and writer. His work is increasingly receiving significant recognition and support. Current articles by Michael are regularly posted at FreeLiberal.com and Tech Central Station, as well as on the FLOW web site.

Michael Strong co-founded FLOW with John Mackey in 2003. Radical Social Entrepreneurs, launched in 2012, is one of three “descendants” of FLOW, along with its siblings Conscious Capitalism and Peace through Commerce.

He is lead author of Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems, co-authored with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus, U.N. Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor Co-Chair Hernando de Soto, and others.

Michael’s work is featured in academic journals (including The Journal of Business Ethics, Economic Affairs, and Critical Review), specialty publications (including Microfinance Insights, Policy Innovations, and Carnegie Ethics) and in media reaching popular audiences (including The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post, RealClearPolitics, and Barron’s).

He serves on the board of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., The Free Cities Institute, The Seasteading Institute, and the Advisory Boards of The Lifeboat Foundation, Trilinc Global, The Moorfield Storey Institute, and is a mentor for developing world entrepreneurs for the MIT Legatum Center for Entrepreneurship and Development.

He has long been a radical social entrepreneur, for decades focused on the “creation of conscious culture through educational innovation,” now focused on the entrepreneurial creation of legal systems. He is author of The Habit of Thought: From Socratic Seminars to Socratic Practice.

Michael spent fifteen years innovating in education, creating several high-performance private and charter schools, including one named the 36th best public school in the U.S. on the Washington Post’s Challenge Index. Michael was educated at Harvard, St. John’s College, and the University of Chicago.

Notes From the Masters Class 2014-06-08

Chuck discusses when it is important to rest, reflect and ask God to show you the path he wants you to take next.

Schools and Religion 2014-05-15

Here is my participation in the Faith Roundtable published this date in the Hill Country News:

Schools and Religion

4x6 B&W Chuck Portrait 6032By Chuck Robison

This question is truly powerful. We live in a global culture, which, of necessity, must include all of us and all of our thinking.

I grew up in a small town in West Virginia. In our town there were Christians and several Jewish families. And when I say Christians I am including snake handlers and Catholics! Somehow we all got along. But religion was something that took place at church and at home. Education took place at school and at home.

The common denominator is HOME. If religion is not taught at home and schoolwork is not done at home, we have lost our way. And it is clear we have lost our way.

As our society and our institutions crumble as part of the process of entering a new paradigm, the warrior class has decided to turn the schools into a battlefield. No wonder there is such pressure to religionize the schools. But the children, who are going to live their lives in the new paradigm, are reflecting what they are learning at home and from their peers, not from some rule that demands kids pray at school, when they do not pray at home.

And, then there is the problem of Christian parochial schools. Local Christian schools teach religion, but then they turn right around and teach exclusiveness and separation from others not like them. And just for good measure, they affirm that evolution is not real and science is godless. Christian Parochial schools seem to be the focus of separation.

The education system, however, is not a sane place for a religious war. Now that American education ranks 27th in results worldwide, we are faced with deciding if education is even important. I heard a country song on KUTX last week and it was titled, “Life is hard, harder still if you are stupid.” It will get really hard in America if we do not pay attention and put our money where it is needed.

No one is prohibited from praying anywhere in the world, unless you mean standing up and repeating words that someone else has written. When it comes to sharing your heart’s wishes, your gratitude and your deepest problems with God, this is best done in your closed-door closet.

That is another way of saying that we grownups need to model the behavior we want to see in our children. If they see us concerned about the quality of our education system and the sincerity of our religious beliefs, they will know what is important.

And if they see our religion and our schools as a battlefield…..well, they will learn that too.

Things are changing at a speed beyond our control, and often beyond our awareness. This really is a time of a global paradigm change.

As grownups, we do well to put high energy into our schools, accepting all the help we can get and displaying our religion in our hearts and not on our sleeves or as bumper stickers or as fish symbols on our cars.

We Americans have become experts at fighting meaningless battles while the real issues remain hidden and un-discussed. Ask yourself these questions: Exactly who has a vested interest in our children growing up to be less educated than our adults? Who benefitted when The Real Texans rejected almost $800 Million in federal funds to improve our schools? Does someone out there believe that the dumber our kids are, the better? Has someone decided that we will not need workers in the future, so we do our best to keep them dumb and dumber so that they can be easily manipulated? And what do we say when a 16 year old student gives us a hand written note someone has sent him, and asks us to read it because “I can’t read cursive.”?